TableofContents I. OLDMOODIE II. BLITHEDALE III. AKNOTOFDREAMERS IV. THESUPPER-TABLE V. UNTILBEDTIME VI. COVERDALE'SSICKCHAMBER VII. THECONVALESCENT VIII. AMODERNARCADIA IX. HOLLINGSWORTH,ZENOBIA,PRISCILLA X. AVISITORFROMTOWN XI. THEWOOD-PATH XII. COVERDALE'SHERMITAGE XIII. ZENOBIA'SLEGEND XIV. ELIOT'SPULPIT XV. ACRISIS XVI. LEAVE-TAKINGS XVII. THEHOTEL XVIII. THEBOARDING-HOUSE XIX. ZENOBIA'SDRAWING-ROOM XX. THEYVANISH XXI. ANOLDACQUAINTANCE XXII. FAUNTLEROY XXIII. AVILLAGEHALL XXIV. THEMASQUERADERS XXV. THETHREETOGETHER XXVI. ZENOBIAANDCOVERDALE XXVII. MIDNIGHT XXVIII. BLITHEDALEPASTURE XXIX. MILESCOVERDALE'SCONFESSION
I.OLDMOODIE The evening before my departure for Blithedale, I was returning to my bachelorapartments,afterattendingthewonderfulexhibitionoftheVeiledLady, whenanelderlymanofrathershabbyappearancemetmeinanobscurepartof
thestreet. "Mr.Coverdale,"saidhesoftly,"canIspeakwithyouamoment?" AsIhavecasuallyalludedtotheVeiledLady,itmaynotbeamisstomention, forthebenefitofsuchofmyreadersasareunacquaintedwithhernowforgotten celebrity, that she was a phenomenon in the mesmeric line; one of the earliest thathadindicatedthebirthofanewscience,ortherevivalofanoldhumbug. Since those times her sisterhood have grown too numerous to attract much individualnotice;nor,infact,hasanyoneofthemcomebeforethepublicunder such skilfully contrived circumstances of stage effect as those which at once mystifiedandilluminatedtheremarkableperformancesoftheladyinquestion. Nowadays,inthemanagementofhis"subject,""clairvoyant,"or"medium,"the exhibitoraffectsthesimplicityandopennessofscientificexperiment;andeven ifheprofesstotreadasteportwoacrosstheboundariesofthespiritualworld, yet carries with him the laws of our actual life and extends them over his preternaturalconquests.Twelveorfifteenyearsago,onthecontrary,allthearts ofmysteriousarrangement,ofpicturesquedisposition,andartisticallycontrasted lightandshade,weremadeavailable,inordertosettheapparentmiracleinthe strongestattitudeofoppositiontoordinaryfacts.InthecaseoftheVeiledLady, moreover,theinterestofthespectatorwasfurtherwroughtupbytheenigmaof heridentity,andanabsurdrumor(probablysetafloatbytheexhibitor,andatone time very prevalent) that a beautiful young lady, of family and fortune, was enshroudedwithinthemistydraperyoftheveil.Itwaswhite,withsomewhatof a subdued silver sheen, like the sunny side of a cloud; and, falling over the wearerfromheadtofoot,wassupposedtoinsulateherfromthematerialworld, from time and space, and to endow her with many of the privileges of a disembodiedspirit. Herpretensions,however,whethermiraculousorotherwise,havelittletodo
withthepresentnarrative—except,indeed,thatIhadpropounded,fortheVeiled Lady'spropheticsolution,aqueryastothesuccessofourBlithedaleenterprise. The response, by the bye, was of the true Sibylline stamp,—nonsensical in its first aspect, yet on closer study unfolding a variety of interpretations, one of whichhascertainlyaccordedwiththeevent.Iwasturningoverthisriddleinmy mind,andtryingtocatchitsslipperypurportbythetail,whentheoldmanabove mentionedinterruptedme. "Mr. Coverdale!—Mr. Coverdale!" said he, repeating my name twice, in ordertomakeupforthehesitatingandineffectualwayinwhichheutteredit."I askyourpardon,sir,butIhearyouaregoingtoBlithedaletomorrow." Iknewthepale,elderlyface,withthered-tiptnose,andthepatchoverone eye; and likewise saw something characteristic in the old fellow's way of standingunderthearchofagate,onlyrevealingenoughofhimselftomakeme recognize him as an acquaintance. He was a very shy personage, this Mr. Moodie; and the trait was the more singular, as his mode of getting his bread necessarily brought him into the stir and hubbub of the world more than the generalityofmen. "Yes,Mr.Moodie,"Ianswered,wonderingwhatinteresthecouldtakeinthe fact,"itismyintentiontogotoBlithedaleto-morrow.CanIbeofanyserviceto youbeforemydeparture?" "If you pleased, Mr. Coverdale," said he, "you might do me a very great favor." "Averygreatone?"repeatedI,inatonethatmusthaveexpressedbutlittle alacrityofbeneficence,althoughIwasreadytodotheoldmananyamountof kindnessinvolvingnospecialtroubletomyself."Averygreatfavor,doyousay? Mytimeisbrief,Mr.Moodie,andIhaveagoodmanypreparationstomake.But begoodenoughtotellmewhatyouwish." "Ah,sir,"repliedOldMoodie,"Idon't quiteliketodothat;and,onfurther thoughts,Mr.Coverdale,perhapsIhadbetterapplytosomeoldergentleman,or to some lady, if you would have the kindness to make me known to one, who mayhappentobegoingtoBlithedale.Youareayoungman,sir!" "Doesthatfactlessenmyavailabilityforyourpurpose?"askedI."However, ifanoldermanwillsuityoubetter,thereisMr.Hollingsworth,whohasthreeor
fouryearstheadvantageofmeinage,andisamuchmoresolidcharacter,anda philanthropisttoboot.Iamonlyapoet,and,sothecriticstellme,nogreataffair at that! But what can this business be, Mr. Moodie? It begins to interest me; especiallysinceyourhintthatalady'sinfluencemightbefounddesirable.Come, Iamreallyanxioustobeofservicetoyou." But the old fellow, in his civil and demure manner, was both freakish and obstinate; and he had now taken some notion or other into his head that made himhesitateinhisformerdesign. "Iwonder,sir,"saidhe,"whetheryouknowaladywhomtheycallZenobia?" "Notpersonally,"Ianswered,"althoughIexpectthatpleasureto-morrow,as shehasgotthestartoftherestofus,andisalreadyaresidentatBlithedale.But have you a literary turn, Mr. Moodie? or have you taken up the advocacy of women'srights?orwhatelsecanhaveinterestedyouinthislady?Zenobia,by the bye, as I suppose you know, is merely her public name; a sort of mask in which she comes before the world, retaining all the privileges of privacy,—a contrivance,inshort,likethewhitedraperyoftheVeiledLady,onlyalittlemore transparent.Butitislate.WillyoutellmewhatIcandoforyou?" "Please to excuse me to-night, Mr. Coverdale," said Moodie. "You are very kind;butIamafraidIhavetroubledyou,when,afterall,theremaybenoneed. Perhaps,withyourgoodleave,Iwillcometoyourlodgingsto-morrowmorning, beforeyousetoutforBlithedale.Iwishyouagood-night,sir,andbegpardon forstoppingyou." Andso hesliptaway;and, ashedidnotshowhimselfthenextmorning,it wasonlythroughsubsequenteventsthatIeverarrivedataplausibleconjecture astowhathisbusinesscouldhavebeen.Arrivingatmyroom,Ithrewalumpof cannelcoaluponthegrate,lightedacigar,andspentanhourinmusingsofevery hue,fromthebrightesttothemostsombre;being,intruth,notsoveryconfident as at some former periods that this final step, which would mix me up irrevocably with the Blithedale affair, was the wisest that could possibly be taken.ItwasnothingshortofmidnightwhenIwenttobed,afterdrinkingaglass ofparticularlyfinesherryonwhichIusedtopridemyselfinthosedays.Itwas the very last bottle; and I finished it, with a friend, the next forenoon, before settingoutforBlithedale.
II.BLITHEDALE There can hardly remain for me (who am really getting to be a frosty bachelor,withanotherwhitehair,everyweekorso,inmymustache),therecan hardly flicker up again so cheery a blaze upon the hearth, as that which I remember,thenextday,atBlithedale.Itwasawoodfire,intheparlorofanold farmhouse,onanAprilafternoon,butwiththefitfulgustsofawintrysnowstorm roaringinthechimney.Vividlydoesthatfiresidere-createitself,asIrakeaway theashesfromtheembersinmymemory,andblowthemupwithasigh,forlack of more inspiring breath. Vividly for an instant, but anon, with the dimmest gleam,andwithjustaslittlefervencyformyheartasformyfinger-ends!The staunch oaken logs were long ago burnt out. Their genial glow must be represented,ifatall,bythemerestphosphoricglimmer,likethatwhichexudes, rather than shines, from damp fragments of decayed trees, deluding the benightedwandererthroughaforest.Aroundsuchchillmockeryofafiresome fewof usmightsitonthe witheredleaves,spreadingout eachapalm towards theimaginarywarmth,andtalkoverourexplodedschemeforbeginningthelife ofParadiseanew. Paradise,indeed!Nobodyelseintheworld,Iamboldtoaffirm—nobody,at least,inourbleaklittleworldofNewEngland,—haddreamedofParadisethat dayexceptasthepolesuggeststhetropic.Nor,withsuchmaterialsaswere at hand, could the most skilful architect have constructed any better imitation of Eve'sbowerthanmightbeseeninthesnowhutofanEsquimaux.Butwemade asummerofit,inspiteofthewilddrifts. It was an April day, as already hinted, and well towards the middle of the month. When morning dawned upon me, in town, its temperature was mild enough to be pronounced even balmy, by a lodger, like myself, in one of the midmosthousesofabrickblock,—eachhousepartakingofthewarmthofallthe rest, besides the sultriness of its individual furnace—heat. But towards noon there had come snow, driven along the street by a northeasterly blast, and whiteningtheroofsandsidewalkswithabusiness-likeperseverancethatwould havedonecredittoourseverestJanuarytempest.Itsetaboutitstaskapparently asmuchinearnestasifithadbeenguaranteedfromathawformonthstocome.
The greater, surely, was my heroism, when, puffing out a final whiff of cigarsmoke,Iquittedmycoseypairofbachelor-rooms,—withagoodfireburningin thegrate,andaclosetrightathand,wheretherewasstillabottleortwointhe champagne basket and a residuum of claret in a box,—quitted, I say, these comfortable quarters, and plunged into the heart of the pitiless snowstorm, in questofabetterlife. Thebetterlife!Possibly,itwouldhardlylooksonow;itisenoughifitlooked sothen.Thegreatestobstacletobeingheroicisthedoubtwhetheronemaynot begoingtoproveone'sselfafool;thetruestheroismistoresistthedoubt;and the profoundest wisdom to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed. Yet,afterall,letusacknowledgeitwiser,ifnotmoresagacious,tofollowout one's daydream to its natural consummation, although, if the vision have been worth the having, it is certain never to be consummated otherwise than by a failure.Andwhatofthat?Itsairiestfragments,impalpableastheymaybe,will possessavaluethatlurksnotinthemostponderousrealitiesofanypracticable scheme. They are not the rubbish of the mind. Whatever else I may repent of, therefore, let it be reckoned neither among my sins nor follies that I once had faith and force enough to form generous hopes of the world's destiny—yes!— andtodowhatinmelayfortheiraccomplishment;eventotheextentofquitting awarmfireside,flingingawayafreshlylightedcigar,andtravellingfarbeyond thestrikeofcityclocks,throughadriftingsnowstorm. There were four of us who rode together through the storm; and Hollingsworth,whohadagreedtobeof thenumber, wasaccidentallydelayed, andsetforthatalaterhouralone.Aswethreadedthestreets,Irememberhow thebuildingsoneithersideseemedtopresstoocloselyuponus,insomuchthat our mighty hearts found barely room enough to throb between them. The snowfall,too,lookedinexpressiblydreary(Ihadalmostcalleditdingy),coming downthroughanatmosphereofcitysmoke,andalightingonthesidewalkonly to be moulded into the impress of somebody's patched boot or overshoe. Thus the track of an old conventionalism was visible on what was freshest from the sky.Butwhenweleftthepavements,andourmuffledhoof-trampsbeatupona desolateextentofcountryroad,andwereeffacedbytheunfetteredblastassoon asstamped,thentherewasbetterairtobreathe.Airthathadnotbeenbreathed onceandagain!airthathadnotbeenspokenintowordsoffalsehood,formality, anderror,likealltheairoftheduskycity!
"Howpleasantitis!"remarkedI,whilethesnowflakesflewintomymouth themomentitwasopened."Howverymildandbalmyisthiscountryair!" "Ah,Coverdale,don'tlaughatwhatlittleenthusiasmyouhaveleft!"saidone ofmycompanions."Imaintainthatthisnitrousatmosphereisreallyexhilarating; and, at any rate, we can never call ourselves regenerated men till a February northeastershallbeasgratefultousasthesoftestbreezeofJune!" Soweallofustookcourage,ridingfleetlyandmerrilyalong,bystonefences thatwerehalfburiedinthewave-likedrifts;andthroughpatchesofwoodland, wherethetree-trunksopposedasnow-incrustedsidetowardsthenortheast;and within ken of deserted villas, with no footprints in their avenues; and passed scattered dwellings, whence puffed the smoke of country fires, strongly impregnatedwiththepungentaromaofburningpeat.Sometimes,encounteringa traveller, we shouted a friendly greeting; and he, unmuffling his ears to the blusterandthesnow-spray,andlisteningeagerly,appearedtothinkourcourtesy worthlessthanthetroublewhichitcosthim.Thechurl!Heunderstoodtheshrill whistleoftheblast,buthadnointelligenceforourblithetonesofbrotherhood. Thislackoffaithinourcordialsympathy,onthetraveller'spart,wasoneamong theinnumerabletokenshowdifficultataskwehadinhandforthereformation oftheworld.Werodeon,however,withstillunflaggingspirits,andmadesuch good companionship with the tempest that, at our journey's end, we professed ourselvesalmostloathtobidtherudeblusterergood-by.But,toownthetruth,I was little better than an icicle, and began to be suspicious that I had caught a fearfulcold. Andnowwewereseatedbythebriskfiresideoftheoldfarmhouse,thesame fire that glimmers so faintly among my reminiscences at the beginning of this chapter.Therewesat,withthesnowmeltingoutofourhairandbeards,andour faces all ablaze, what with the past inclemency and present warmth. It was, indeed,arightgoodfirethatwefoundawaitingus,builtupofgreat,roughlogs, and knotty limbs, and splintered fragments of an oak-tree, such as farmers are wont to keep for their own hearths, since these crooked and unmanageable boughs could never be measured into merchantable cords for the market. A family of the old Pilgrims might have swung their kettle over precisely such a fireasthis,only,nodoubt,abiggerone;and,contrastingitwithmycoal-grate,I feltsomuchthemorethatwehadtransportedourselvesaworld-widedistance fromthesystemofsocietythatshackledusatbreakfast-time.
Good, comfortable Mrs. Foster (the wife of stout Silas Foster, who was to managethefarmatafairstipend,andbeourtutorintheartofhusbandry)bade usaheartywelcome.Atherback—abackofgenerousbreadth—appearedtwo young women, smiling most hospitably, but looking rather awkward withal, as not well knowingwhatwas tobetheirpositioninournewarrangementofthe world.Weshookhandsaffectionatelyallround,andcongratulatedourselvesthat theblessedstateofbrotherhoodandsisterhood,atwhichweaimed,mightfairly bedatedfromthismoment.Ourgreetingswerehardlyconcludedwhenthedoor opened, and Zenobia—whom I had never before seen, important as was her placeinourenterprise—Zenobiaenteredtheparlor. This (as the reader, if at all acquainted with our literary biography, need scarcelybetold)wasnotherrealname.Shehadassumedit,inthefirstinstance, as her magazine signature; and, as it accorded well with something imperial which her friends attributed to this lady's figure and deportment, they halflaughingly adopted it in their familiar intercourse with her. She took the appellation in good part, and even encouraged its constant use; which, in fact, was thus far appropriate, that our Zenobia, however humble looked her new philosophy,hadasmuchnativeprideasanyqueenwouldhaveknownwhatto dowith.
III.AKNOTOFDREAMERS Zenobiabadeuswelcome,inafine,frank,mellowvoice,andgaveeachofus her hand, which was very soft and warm. She had something appropriate, I recollect,tosaytoeveryindividual;andwhatshesaidtomyselfwasthis:—"I have long wished to know you, Mr. Coverdale, and to thank you for your beautifulpoetry,someofwhichIhavelearnedbyheart;orratherithasstolen intomymemory,withoutmyexercisinganychoiceorvolitionaboutthematter. Ofcourse—permitmetosayyoudonotthinkofrelinquishinganoccupationin whichyouhavedoneyourselfsomuchcredit.Iwouldalmostrathergiveyouup asanassociate,thanthattheworldshouldloseoneofitstruepoets!" "Ah, no; there will not be the slightest danger of that, especially after this inestimablepraisefromZenobia,"saidI,smiling,andblushing,nodoubt,with
excessofpleasure."Ihope,onthecontrary,nowtoproducesomethingthatshall reallydeservetobecalledpoetry,—true,strong,natural,andsweet,asisthelife whichwearegoingtolead,—somethingthatshallhavethenotesofwildbirds twitteringthroughit,orastrainlikethewindanthemsinthewoods,asthecase maybe." "Isitirksometoyoutohearyourownversessung?"askedZenobia,witha gracious smile. "If so, I am very sorry, for you will certainly hear me singing themsometimes,inthesummerevenings." "Ofallthings,"answeredI,"thatiswhatwilldelightmemost." Whilethispassed,andwhileshespoketomycompanions,Iwastakingnote of Zenobia's aspect; and it impressed itself on me so distinctly, that I can now summonherup,likeaghost,alittlewannerthanthelifebutotherwiseidentical withit.Shewasdressedassimplyaspossible,inanAmericanprint(Ithinkthe dry-goodspeoplecallitso),butwithasilkenkerchief,betweenwhichandher gowntherewasoneglimpseofawhiteshoulder.Itstruckmeasagreatpieceof good fortune that there should be just that glimpse. Her hair, which was dark, glossy, and of singular abundance, was put up rather soberly and primly— withoutcurls,orotherornament,exceptasingleflower.Itwasanexoticofrare beauty,andasfreshasifthehothousegardenerhadjustcliptitfromthestem. Thatflowerhasstruckdeeprootintomymemory.Icanbothseeitandsmellit, at this moment. So brilliant, so rare, so costly as it must have been, and yet enduringonlyforaday,itwasmoreindicativeoftheprideandpompwhichhad aluxuriantgrowthinZenobia'scharacterthanifagreatdiamondhad sparkled amongherhair. Herhand,thoughverysoft,waslargerthanmostwomenwouldliketohave, orthantheycouldaffordtohave,thoughnotawhittoolargeinproportionwith thespaciousplanofZenobia'sentiredevelopment.Itdidonegoodtoseeafine intellect (as hers really was, although its natural tendency lay in another direction than towards literature) so fitly cased. She was, indeed, an admirable figure of a woman, just on the hither verge of her richest maturity, with a combination of features which it is safe to call remarkably beautiful, even if somefastidiouspersonsmightpronouncethemalittledeficientinsoftnessand delicacy. But we find enough of those attributes everywhere. Preferable—by way of variety, at least—was Zenobia's bloom, health, and vigor, which she possessedinsuchoverflowthatamanmightwellhavefalleninlovewithher
for their sake only. In her quiet moods, she seemed rather indolent; but when reallyinearnest,particularlyiftherewereaspiceofbitterfeeling,shegrewall alivetoherfinger-tips. "I am the first comer," Zenobia went on to say, while her smile beamed warmthuponusall;"soItakethepartofhostessforto-day,andwelcomeyouas iftomyownfireside.Youshallbemyguests,too,atsupper.Tomorrow,ifyou please,wewillbebrethrenandsisters,andbeginournewlifefromdaybreak." "Haveweourvariouspartsassigned?"askedsomeone. "Oh,weofthesoftersex,"respondedZenobia,withhermellow,almostbroad laugh,—most delectable to hear, but not in the least like an ordinary woman's laugh,—"we women (there are four of us here already) will take the domestic andindoorpartofthebusiness,asamatterofcourse.Tobake,toboil,toroast, to fry, to stew,—to wash, and iron, and scrub, and sweep,—and, at our idler intervals,toreposeourselvesonknittingandsewing,—these,Isuppose,mustbe feminineoccupations,forthepresent.Byandby,perhaps,whenourindividual adaptationsbegintodevelopthemselves,itmaybethatsomeofuswhowearthe petticoatwillgoafield,andleavetheweakerbrethrentotakeourplacesinthe kitchen." "What a pity," I remarked, "that the kitchen, and the housework generally, cannot be left out of our system altogether! It is odd enough that the kind of labor which falls to the lot of women is just that which chiefly distinguishes artificial life—the life of degenerated mortals—from the life of Paradise. Eve hadnodinner-pot,andnoclothestomend,andnowashing-day." "Iamafraid,"saidZenobia,withmirthgleamingoutofhereyes,"weshall findsomedifficultyinadoptingtheparadisiacalsystemforatleastamonthto come.Lookatthatsnowdriftsweepingpastthewindow!Arethereanyfigsripe, do you think? Have the pineapples been gathered to-day? Would you like a bread-fruit, or a cocoanut? Shall I run out and pluck you some roses? No, no, Mr.Coverdale;theonlyflowerhereaboutsistheoneinmyhair,whichIgotout of a greenhouse this morning. As for the garb of Eden," added she, shivering playfully,"IshallnotassumeittillafterMay-day!" Assuredly Zenobia could not have intended it,—the fault must have been entirelyinmyimagination.Buttheselastwords,togetherwithsomethinginher
manner,irresistiblybroughtupapictureofthatfine,perfectlydevelopedfigure, inEve'searliestgarment.Herfree,careless,generousmodesofexpressionoften hadthiseffectofcreatingimageswhich,thoughpure,arehardlyfelttobequite decorous when born of a thought that passes between man and woman. I imputedit,atthattime,toZenobia'snoblecourage,consciousofnoharm,and scorningthepettyrestraintswhichtakethelifeandcoloroutofotherwomen's conversation. There was another peculiarity about her. We seldom meet with womennowadays,andinthiscountry,whoimpressusasbeingwomenatall,— theirsexfadesawayandgoesfornothing,inordinaryintercourse.Notsowith Zenobia.Onefeltaninfluencebreathingoutofhersuchaswemightsupposeto comefromEve,whenshewasjustmade,andherCreatorbroughthertoAdam, saying,"Behold!hereisawoman!"NotthatIwouldconveytheideaofespecial gentleness, grace, modesty, and shyness, but of a certain warm and rich characteristic,whichseems,forthemostpart,tohavebeenrefinedawayoutof thefemininesystem. "Andnow,"continuedZenobia,"Imustgoandhelpgetsupper.Doyouthink you can be content, instead of figs, pineapples, and all the other delicacies of Adam'ssupper-table,withteaandtoast,andacertainmodestsupplyofhamand tongue,which,withtheinstinctofahousewife,Ibroughthitherinabasket?And thereshallbebreadandmilk,too,iftheinnocenceofyourtastedemandsit." The whole sisterhood now went about their domestic avocations, utterly decliningourofferstoassist,furtherthanbybringingwoodforthekitchenfire from a huge pile in the back yard. After heaping up more than a sufficient quantity,wereturnedtothesitting-room,drewourchairsclosetothehearth,and begantotalkoverourprospects.Soon,withatremendousstampingintheentry, appeared Silas Foster, lank, stalwart, uncouth, and grizzly-bearded. He came from foddering the cattle in the barn, and from the field, where he had been ploughing,untilthedepthofthesnowrendereditimpossibletodrawafurrow. Hegreetedusinprettymuchthesametoneasifhewerespeakingtohisoxen, tookaquidfromhisirontobacco-box,pulledoffhiswetcowhideboots,andsat down before the fire in his stocking-feet. The steam arose from his soaked garments,sothatthestoutyeomanlookedvaporousandspectre-like. "Well, folks," remarked Silas, "you'll be wishing yourselves back to town again,ifthisweatherholds." And,trueenough,therewasalookofgloom,asthetwilightfellsilentlyand
sadly out of the sky, its gray or sable flakes intermingling themselves with the fast-descendingsnow.Thestorm,initseveningaspect,wasdecidedlydreary.It seemedtohavearisenforourespecialbehoof,—asymbolofthecold,desolate, distrustful phantoms that invariably haunt the mind, on the eve of adventurous enterprises,towarnusbackwithintheboundariesofordinarylife. Butourcouragedidnotquail.Wewouldnotallowourselvestobedepressed bythesnowdrifttrailingpastthewindow,anymorethanifithadbeenthesigh ofasummerwindamongrustlingboughs.Therehavebeenfewbrighterseasons forusthanthat.Ifevermenmightlawfullydreamawake,andgiveutteranceto their wildest visions without dread of laughter or scorn on the part of the audience,—yes,andspeakofearthlyhappiness,forthemselvesandmankind,as anobjecttobehopefullystrivenfor,andprobablyattained,wewhomadethat littlesemicircleroundtheblazingfirewerethoseverymen.Wehadlefttherusty iron framework of society behind us; we had broken through many hindrances that are powerful enough to keep most people on the weary treadmill of the establishedsystem,evenwhiletheyfeelitsirksomenessalmostasintolerableas wedid.Wehadsteppeddownfromthepulpit;wehadflungasidethepen;we had shut up the ledger; we had thrown off that sweet, bewitching, enervating indolence,whichisbetter,afterall,thanmost oftheenjoymentswithinmortal grasp. It was our purpose—a generous one, certainly, and absurd, no doubt, in full proportion with its generosity—to give up whatever we had heretofore attained, for the sake of showing mankind the example of a life governed by other than the false and cruel principles on which human society has all along beenbased. And,firstofall,wehaddivorcedourselvesfrompride,andwerestrivingto supplyitsplacewithfamiliarlove.Wemeanttolessenthelaboringman'sgreat burdenoftoil,byperformingourdueshareofitatthecostofourownthewsand sinews.Wesoughtourprofitbymutualaid,insteadofwrestingitbythestrong handfromanenemy,orfilchingitcraftilyfromthoselessshrewdthanourselves (if, indeed, there were any such in New England), or winning it by selfish competitionwithaneighbor;inoneoranotherofwhichfashionseverysonof woman both perpetrates and suffers his share of the common evil, whether he choosesitorno.And,asthebasisofourinstitution,wepurposedtoofferupthe earnesttoilofourbodies,asaprayernolessthananeffortfortheadvancement ofourrace. Therefore, if we built splendid castles (phalansteries perhaps they might be
morefitlycalled),and picturedbeautifulscenes,amongthefervid coalsofthe hearth around which we were clustering, and if all went to rack with the crumbling embers and have never since arisen out of the ashes, let us take to ourselvesnoshame.Inmyownbehalf,IrejoicethatIcouldoncethinkbetterof theworld'simprovabilitythanitdeserved.Itisamistakeintowhichmenseldom falltwiceinalifetime;or,ifso,therarerandhigheristhenaturethatcanthus magnanimouslypersistinerror. StoutSilasFostermingledlittleinourconversation;butwhenhedidspeak,it was very much to some practical purpose. For instance:—"Which man among you," quoth he, "is the best judge of swine? Some of us must go to the next Brightonfair,andbuyhalfadozenpigs." Pigs!Goodheavens!hadwecomeoutfromamongtheswinishmultitudefor this?Andagain,inreferencetosomediscussionaboutraisingearlyvegetables for the market:—"We shall never make any hand at market gardening," said SilasFoster,"unlessthewomenfolkswillundertaketodoalltheweeding.We haven'tteamenoughforthatandtheregularfarm-work,reckoningthreeofyour cityfolksasworthonecommonfield-hand.No,no;Itellyou,weshouldhaveto get up a little too early in the morning, to compete with the market gardeners roundBoston." It struck me as rather odd, that one of the first questions raised, after our separation from the greedy, struggling, self-seeking world, should relate to the possibilityofgettingtheadvantageovertheoutsidebarbariansintheirownfield of labor. But, to own the truth, I very soon became sensible that, as regarded society at large, we stood in a position of new hostility, rather than new brotherhood.Norcouldthisfailtobethecase,insomedegree,untilthebigger andbetterhalfofsocietyshouldrangeitselfonourside.Constitutingsopitifula minorityasnow,wewereinevitablyestrangedfromtherestofmankindinpretty fairproportionwiththestrictnessofourmutualbondamongourselves. Thisdawningidea,however,wasdrivenbackintomyinnerconsciousnessby the entrance of Zenobia. She came with the welcome intelligence that supper was on the table. Looking at herself in the glass, and perceiving that her one magnificentflowerhadgrownratherlanguid(probablybybeingexposedtothe fervency of the kitchen fire), she flung it on the floor, as unconcernedly as a village girl would throw away a faded violet. The action seemed proper to her character,although,methought,itwouldstillmorehavebefittedthebounteous
nature of this beautiful woman to scatter fresh flowers from her hand, and to revive faded ones by her touch. Nevertheless, it was a singular but irresistible effect; the presence of Zenobia caused our heroic enterprise to show like an illusion,amasquerade,apastoral,acounterfeitArcadia,inwhichwegrown-up menandwomenweremakingaplay-dayoftheyearsthatweregivenustolive in.Itriedtoanalyzethisimpression,butnotwithmuchsuccess. "It really vexes me," observed Zenobia, as we left the room, "that Mr. Hollingsworthshouldbesuchalaggard.Ishouldnothavethoughthimatallthe sortofpersontobeturnedbackbyapuffofcontrarywind,orafewsnowflakes driftingintohisface." "DoyouknowHollingsworthpersonally?"Iinquired. "No; only as an auditor—auditress, I mean—of some of his lectures," said she."Whatavoicehehas!andwhatamanheis!Yetnotsomuchanintellectual man, I should say, as a great heart; at least, he moved me more deeply than I thinkmyselfcapableofbeingmoved,exceptbythestrokeofatrue,strongheart againstmyown.Itisasadpitythatheshouldhavedevotedhisgloriouspowers tosuchagrimy,unbeautiful,andpositivelyhopelessobjectasthisreformation ofcriminals,aboutwhichhemakeshimselfandhiswretchedlysmallaudiences so very miserable. To tell you a secret, I never could tolerate a philanthropist before.Couldyou?" "Bynomeans,"Ianswered;"neithercanInow." "They are, indeed, an odiously disagreeable set of mortals," continued Zenobia."IshouldlikeMr.Hollingsworthagreatdealbetterifthephilanthropy hadbeenleftout.Atallevents,asamerematteroftaste,Iwishhewouldletthe badpeoplealone,andtrytobenefitthosewhoarenotalreadypasthishelp.Do you suppose he will be content to spend his life, or even a few months of it, amongtolerablyvirtuousandcomfortableindividualslikeourselves?" "Uponmyword,Idoubtit,"saidI."Ifwewishtokeephimwithus,wemust systematically commit at least one crime apiece! Mere peccadillos will not satisfyhim." Zenobiaturned,sidelong,astrangekindofaglanceuponme;but,beforeI couldmakeoutwhatitmeant,wehadenteredthekitchen,where,inaccordance withtherusticsimplicityofournewlife,thesupper-tablewasspread.
IV.THESUPPER-TABLE Thepleasantfirelight!Imuststillkeepharpingonit.Thekitchenhearthhad an old-fashioned breadth, depth, and spaciousness, far within which lay what seemedthebuttofagood-sizedoak-tree,withthemoisturebubblingmerrilyout atbothends.Itwasnowhalfanhourbeyonddusk.Theblazefromanarmfulof substantialsticks,renderedmorecombustiblebybrushwoodandpine,flickered powerfully on the smoke-blackened walls, and so cheered our spirits that we cared not what inclemency might rage and roar on the other side of our illuminatedwindows.Ayetsultrierwarmthwasbestowedbyagoodlyquantity of peat, which was crumbling to white ashes among the burning brands, and incensed the kitchen with its not ungrateful fragrance. The exuberance of this householdfirewouldalonehavesufficedtobespeakusnotruefarmers;forthe New England yeoman, if he have the misfortune to dwell within practicable distance of a wood-market, is as niggardly of each stick as if it were a bar of Californiagold. Butitwasfortunateforus,onthatwintryeveofouruntriedlife,toenjoythe warmandradiantluxuryofasomewhattooabundantfire.Ifitservednoother purpose,itmadethemenlooksofullofyouth,warmblood,andhope,andthe women—such of them, at least, as were anywise convertible by its magic—so verybeautiful,thatIwouldcheerfullyhavespentmylastdollartoprolongthe blaze. As for Zenobia, there was a glow in her cheeks that made me think of Pandora,freshfromVulcan'sworkshop,andfullofthecelestialwarmthbydint ofwhichhehadtemperedandmouldedher. "Take your places, my dear friends all," cried she; "seat yourselves without ceremony,andyoushallbemadehappywithsuchteaasnotmanyoftheworld's working-people,exceptyourselves,willfindintheircupsto-night.Afterthisone supper, you may drink buttermilk, if you please. To-night we will quaff this nectar,which,Iassureyou,couldnotbeboughtwithgold." We all sat down,—grizzly Silas Foster, his rotund helpmate, and the two bouncing handmaidens, included,—and looked at one another in a friendly but rather awkward way. It was the first practical trial of our theories of equal
brotherhood and sisterhood; and we people of superior cultivation and refinement(forassuch,Ipresume,weunhesitatinglyreckonedourselves)feltas if something were already accomplished towards the millennium of love. The truthis,however,thatthelaboringoarwaswithourunpolishedcompanions;it being far easier to condescend than to accept of condescension. Neither did I refrainfromquestioning,insecret,whethersomeofus—andZenobiaamongthe rest—wouldsoquietlyhavetakenourplacesamongthesegoodpeople,savefor thecherishedconsciousnessthatitwasnotbynecessitybutchoice.Thoughwe sawfittodrinkourteaoutofearthencupsto-night,andinearthencompany,it wasatourownoptiontousepicturedporcelainandhandlesilverforksagaintomorrow. This same salvo, as to the power of regaining our former position, contributed much, I fear, to the equanimity with which we subsequently bore manyofthehardshipsandhumiliationsofalifeoftoil.IfeverIhavedeserved (whichhasnotoftenbeenthecase,and,Ithink,never),butifeverIdiddeserve tobesoundlycuffedbyafellowmortal,forsecretlyputtingweightuponsome imaginary social advantage, it must have been while I was striving to prove myselfostentatiouslyhisequalandnomore.ItwaswhileIsatbesidehimonhis cobbler'sbench,orclinkedmyhoeagainsthisowninthecornfield,orbrokethe same crust of bread, my earth-grimed hand to his, at our noontide lunch. The poor,proudmanshouldlookatbothsidesofsympathylikethis. The silence which followed upon our sitting down to table grew rather oppressive; indeed, it was hardly broken by a word, during the first round of Zenobia'sfragranttea. "Ihope,"saidI,atlast,"thatourblazingwindowswillbevisibleagreatway off. There is nothing so pleasant and encouraging to a solitary traveller, on a stormynight,asafloodoffirelightseenamidthegloom.Theseruddywindow panescannotfailtocheertheheartsofallthatlookatthem.Aretheynotwarm withthebeacon-firewhichwehavekindledforhumanity?" "Theblazeofthatbrushwoodwillonlylastaminuteortwolonger,"observed Silas Foster; but whether he meant to insinuate that our moral illumination wouldhaveasbriefaterm,Icannotsay. "Meantime,"saidZenobia,"itmayservetoguidesomewayfarertoashelter." And,justasshesaidthis,therecameaknockatthehousedoor.
"Thereisoneoftheworld'swayfarers,"saidI."Ay,ay,justso!"quothSilas Foster."Ourfirelightwilldrawstragglers,justasacandledrawsdorbugsona summernight." Whethertoenjoyadramaticsuspense,orthatwewereselfishlycontrasting ourowncomfortwiththechillanddrearysituationoftheunknownpersonatthe threshold, or that some of us city folk felt a little startled at the knock which came so unseasonably, through night and storm, to the door of the lonely farmhouse,—soithappenedthatnobody,foraninstantortwo,arosetoanswer the summons. Pretty soon there came another knock. The first had been moderately loud; the second was smitten so forcibly that the knuckles of the applicantmusthavelefttheirmarkinthedoorpanel. "He knocks as if he had a right to come in," said Zenobia, laughing. "And whatarewethinkingof?—ItmustbeMr.Hollingsworth!" Hereupon I went to the door, unbolted, and flung it wide open. There, sure enough,stoodHollingsworth,hisshaggygreatcoatallcoveredwithsnow,sothat helookedquiteasmuchlikeapolarbearasamodernphilanthropist. "Sluggishhospitalitythis!"saidhe,inthosedeeptonesofhis,whichseemed tocomeoutofachestascapaciousasabarrel."Itwouldhaveservedyourightif Ihadlaindownandspentthenightonthedoorstep,justforthesakeofputting youtoshame.Buthereisaguestwhowillneedawarmerandsofterbed." And, stepping back to the wagon in which he had journeyed hither, Hollingsworth received into his arms and deposited on the doorstep a figure enveloped in a cloak. It was evidently a woman; or, rather,—judging from the easewithwhichheliftedher,andthelittlespacewhichsheseemedtofillinhis arms, a slim and unsubstantial girl. As she showed some hesitation about enteringthedoor,Hollingsworth,withhisusualdirectnessandlackofceremony, urged her forward not merely within the entry, but into the warm and strongly lightedkitchen. "Whoisthis?"whisperedI,remainingbehindwithhim,whilehewastaking offhisgreatcoat. "Who? Really, I don't know," answered Hollingsworth, looking at me with somesurprise."Itisayoungpersonwhobelongshere,however;andnodoubt she had been expected. Zenobia, or some of the women folks, can tell you all
aboutit." "Ithinknot,"saidI,glancingtowardsthenew-comerandtheotheroccupants of the kitchen. "Nobody seems to welcome her. I should hardly judge that she wasanexpectedguest." "Well,well,"saidHollingsworthquietly,"We'llmakeitright." Thestranger,orwhatevershewere,remainedstandingpreciselyonthatspot ofthekitchenfloortowhichHollingsworth'skindlyhandhadimpelledher.The cloak falling partly off, she was seen to be a very young woman dressed in a poorbutdecentgown,madehighintheneck,andwithoutanyregardtofashion or smartness. Her brown hair fell down from beneath a hood, not in curls but with only a slight wave; her face was of a wan, almost sickly hue, betokening habitualseclusionfromthesunandfreeatmosphere,likeaflower-shrubthathad doneitsbesttoblossomintooscantylight.Tocompletethepitiablenessofher aspect,sheshiveredeitherwithcold,orfear,ornervousexcitement,sothatyou mighthavebeheldhershadowvibratingonthefire-lightedwall.Inshort,there hasseldombeenseensodepressedandsadafigureasthisyounggirl's;andit was hardly possible to help being angry with her, from mere despair of doing anythingforhercomfort.Thefantasyoccurredtomethatshewassomedesolate kindofacreature,doomedtowanderaboutinsnowstorms;andthat,thoughthe ruddiness of our window panes had tempted her into a human dwelling, she would not remain long enough to melt the icicles out of her hair. Another conjecturelikewisecameintomymind.RecollectingHollingsworth'ssphereof philanthropicaction,Ideemeditpossiblethathemighthavebroughtoneofhis guilty patients, to be wrought upon and restored to spiritual health by the pure influenceswhichourmodeoflifewouldcreate. Asyetthegirlhadnotstirred.Shestoodnearthedoor,fixingapairoflarge, brown, melancholy eyes upon Zenobia—only upon Zenobia!—she evidently sawnothingelseintheroomsavethatbright,fair,rosy,beautifulwoman.Itwas thestrangestlookIeverwitnessed;longamysterytome,andforeveramemory. Oncesheseemedabouttomoveforwardandgreether,—Iknownotwithwhat warmth or with what words,—but, finally, instead of doing so, she dropped down upon her knees, clasped her hands, and gazed piteously into Zenobia's face.Meetingnokindlyreception,herheadfellonherbosom. I never thoroughly forgave Zenobia for her conduct on this occasion. But
womenarealwaysmorecautiousintheircasualhospitalitiesthanmen. "What does the girl mean?" cried she in rather a sharp tone. "Is she crazy? Hasshenotongue?" AndhereHollingsworthsteppedforward. "Nowonderifthepoorchild'stongueisfrozeninhermouth,"saidhe;andI think he positively frowned at Zenobia. "The very heart will be frozen in her bosom,unlessyouwomencanwarmit,amongyou,withthewarmththatought tobeinyourown!" Hollingsworth's appearance was very striking at this moment. He was then aboutthirtyyearsold,butlookedseveralyearsolder,withhisgreatshaggyhead, hisheavybrow,hisdarkcomplexion,hisabundantbeard,andtherudestrength withwhichhisfeaturesseemedtohavebeenhammeredoutofiron,ratherthan chiselledor moulded fromanyfineror softermaterial.Hisfigure was not tall, butmassiveandbrawny,andwellbefittinghisoriginaloccupation;whichasthe reader probably knows—was that of a blacksmith. As for external polish, or mere courtesy of manner, he never possessed more than a tolerably educated bear;although,inhisgentlermoods,therewasatendernessinhisvoice,eyes, mouth,inhisgesture,andineveryindescribablemanifestation,whichfewmen couldresistandnowoman.Buthenowlookedsternandreproachful;anditwas with that inauspicious meaning in his glance that Hollingsworth first met Zenobia'seyes,andbeganhisinfluenceuponherlife. Tomy surprise,Zenobia—ofwhose haughty spiritI had beentoldso many examples—absolutelychangedcolor,andseemedmortifiedandconfused. "Youdonotquitedomejustice,Mr.Hollingsworth,"saidshealmosthumbly. "Iamwillingtobekindtothepoorgirl.Issheaprotegeeofyours?WhatcanI doforher?" "Have you anything to ask of this lady?" said Hollingsworth kindly to the girl."Irememberyoumentionedhernamebeforewelefttown." "Only that she will shelter me," replied the girl tremulously. "Only that she willletmebealwaysnearher." "Well,indeed,"exclaimedZenobia,recoveringherselfandlaughing,"thisis
anadventure,andwell-worthytobethefirstincidentinourlifeofloveandfreeheartedness! But I accept it, for the present, without further question, only," addedshe,"itwouldbeaconvenienceifweknewyourname." "Priscilla,"saidthegirl;anditappearedtomethatshehesitatedwhetherto addanythingmore,anddecidedinthenegative."Praydonotaskmemyother name,—atleastnotyet,—ifyouwillbesokindtoaforlorncreature." Priscilla!—Priscilla!Irepeatedthenametomyselfthreeorfourtimes;andin thatlittlespace,thisquaintandprimcognomenhadsoamalgamateditselfwith myideaofthegirl,thatitseemedasifnoothernamecouldhaveadheredtoher foramoment.Heretoforethepoorthinghadnotshedanytears;butnowthatshe foundherselfreceived,andatleasttemporarilyestablished,thebigdropsbegan to ooze out from beneath her eyelids as if she were full of them. Perhaps it showedtheironsubstanceofmyheart,thatIcouldnothelpsmilingatthisodd sceneofunknownandunaccountablecalamity,intowhichourcheerfulpartyhad been entrapped without the liberty of choosing whether to sympathize or no. Hollingsworth'sbehaviorwascertainlyagreatdealmorecreditablethanmine. "Letusnotpryfurtherintohersecrets,"hesaidtoZenobiaandtherestofus, apart; and his dark, shaggy face looked really beautiful with its expression of thoughtfulbenevolence."LetusconcludethatProvidencehassenthertous,as thefirst-fruitsoftheworld,whichwehaveundertakentomakehappierthanwe findit.Letuswarmherpoor,shiveringbodywiththisgoodfire,andherpoor, shiveringheartwithourbestkindness.Letusfeedher,andmakeheroneofus. As we do by this friendless girl, so shall we prosper. And, in good time, whateverisdesirableforustoknowwillbemeltedoutofher,asinevitablyas thosetearswhichweseenow." "Atleast,"remarkedI,"youmaytellushowandwhereyoumetwithher." "An old man brought her to my lodgings," answered Hollingsworth, "and beggedme to convey herto Blithedale, where—so I understood him—she had friends;andthisispositivelyallIknowaboutthematter." GrimSilasFoster,allthiswhile,hadbeenbusyatthesupper-table,pouring outhisownteaandgulpingitdownwithnomoresenseofitsexquisitenessthan ifitwereadecoctionofcatnip;helpinghimselftopiecesofdipttoastontheflat of his knife blade, and dropping half of it on the table-cloth; using the same
serviceable implement to cut slice after slice of ham; perpetrating terrible enormities with the butter-plate; and in all other respects behaving less like a civilized Christian than the worst kind of an ogre. Being by this time fully gorged,hecrownedhisamiableexploitswithadraughtfromthewaterpitcher, andthenfavoreduswithhisopinionaboutthebusinessinhand.And,certainly, thoughtheyproceededoutofanunwipedmouth,hisexpressionsdidhimhonor. "Givethegirlahotcupofteaandathicksliceofthisfirst-ratebacon,"said Silas,likeasensiblemanashewas."That'swhatshewants.Letherstaywithus aslongasshelikes,andhelpinthekitchen,andtakethecow-breathatmilking time;and,inaweekortwo,she'llbegintolooklikeacreatureofthisworld." Sowesatdownagaintosupper,andPriscillaalongwithus.
V.UNTILBEDTIME SilasFoster,bythetimeweconcludedourmeal,hadstriptoffhiscoat,and plantedhimselfonalowchairbythekitchenfire,withalapstone,ahammer,a piece of sole leather, and some waxed-ends, in order to cobble an old pair of cowhide boots; he being, in his own phrase, "something of a dab" (whatever degreeofskillthatmayimply)attheshoemakingbusiness.Weheardthetapof hishammeratintervalsfortherestoftheevening.Theremainderoftheparty adjourned to the sitting-room. Good Mrs. Foster took her knitting-work, and soonfellfastasleep,stillkeepingherneedlesinbriskmovement,and,tothebest ofmyobservation,absolutelyfootingastockingoutofthetextureofadream. And a very substantial stocking it seemed to be. One of the two handmaidens hemmedatowel,andtheotherappearedtobemakingaruffle,forherSunday's wear,outofalittlebitofembroideredmuslinwhichZenobiahadprobablygiven her. It was curious to observe how trustingly, and yet how timidly, our poor PriscillabetookherselfintotheshadowofZenobia'sprotection.Shesatbeside her on a stool, looking up every now and then with an expression of humble delight at her new friend's beauty. A brilliant woman is often an object of the devoted admiration—it might almost be termed worship, or idolatry—of some